A few weeks later, Fog was sitting alone in the dark in his cramped living quarters. The transmitter was fairly large and complex for something that came out of a suitcase. It sat near Fog’s small desk near a window. Fog’s clothes were arranged on his bed. He didn’t like having his back to the door.
Fog was decidedly neat. He was neat to compulsion. Compared with his subordinates, he was very organized. Early on, he decided to organize objects, objectives, and people into an index that he would carry around with him, mentally, wherever he went.
He calculated every interaction he had with others. Even now, as he sat by his apartment window, microphone in hand, he sat in a relaxed position so as to avoid suspicion.
Fog was given a large instruction book for transmitting and a letter of well-wishing from the top echelons of his native government. Every entry for broadcast was very specific as to the date, channel, hour, minute, and second of transmission. Fog looked at his watch, which was very accurate, cleared his voice and spoke.
“one, two, three, four, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, seven, eight, nine, zero, zero...” Fog continued in this fashion for at least another minute before stopping. He played the tape for about thirty minutes before shutting off the transmitter. Fog would be transmitting every night at different intervals for the next few months. Nothing else was required of him, as far as he knew.
Fog wondered who heard it. He also wondered what it said. He was naturally curious, which was a drawback if one was going to be organized. He didn’t like being in the dark, or at least, other people’s darkness. Natural darkness suited him.
Why did they send a highly trained assassin into a city to broadcast anonymously? What were the dangers of this mission? What was in this city that was so important?
Fog sat and looked out his window for a while. He heard yelling, talking, screaming, police sirens, dog barks, and the like from the active darkness. He wanted to take it all in.
Three days later, Merky sat in his office looking over the recent deaths. Some people had been killed by a gang of dogs, some people had been killed in gang wars, a suicide, lots of murders of passion. The gang of dogs was odd, but nothing too far out of the ordinary. Dogs in this city knew what it was to be truly alive, and if the humans couldn’t cope, why, nature then took its course.
What was out of the ordinary was an anonymous radio transmission that had been found by one of his friends. Merky was a down-to-earth type of guy, and believed in having friends in high and low places. This friend, a short-wave radio hobbyist, recorded an odd transmission two nights ago. It slipped in during the night and ended abruptly.
This friend was known to be slightly paranoid, and sent a tape to Merky. Merky listened to it and thought it was very dull. It didn’t have a beat, and you couldn’t dance to it. Merky humored his friend, took the tape, and thanked him for reporting suspicious activity. At first, it went straight into the garbage, but Merky thought that was indirectly rude, and sent it down to the evidence locker with an expiration of thirty days.
Merky looked out his office door at his pretty secretary. There was something nice about her. An inner office romance wouldn’t be “kosher,” however, and Merky let it drop, consciously, from his mind. Merky had been dating for a few months, now that he was finally over his wife’s death. He wrote down “Martha” on a piece of paper, and threw it to the floor.
At night, when the day world was more or less at ease, Merky had many dreams. Interlocking, they lit up like neon lights in his mind. That night, he had a disturbing one. Strange, dark animals containing secret messages hunted down his secretary and killed her, their excrement afterwards resembling numbers in the dirt. When Merky awoke, he found that he had peed his bed. That hadn’t happened since he was a child, he thought.
Merky looked around his room, and saw that he hadn’t hung any of his clothes up.
“One, two, three, four, three, four, five, six, five, six, seven...” Fog put the microphone down, and replayed the tape for thirty minutes as instructed, this time on one of the very high frequencies.
Fog liked writing in his journal when he was frightened, which rarely occurred. His journal was arranged next to a small plant that he picked up at the flower store. He liked being afraid some of the time. It kept him in perspective.
His life was arranged. He folded his clothes, he made his bed, and he showered every morning after waking up at four o’clock. His regiment was clearly defined: nothing out of place. Secretly, he was deathly afraid of losing control.
For a curious man, who was not afraid of fear, control always seemed out of reach. When he was in the jungles, light years away and thousands of years ago, crouching in the darkness, he wondered what was within his control. He remembers looking at his gun and clenching it tight. The chamber? loaded. What does he hear? nothing. What does he see? moonlight.
These trips down memory lane, for Fog, were more than intense. He snapped back to the city, rigid in his desk chair, sweating in front of his microphone, staring out the window.
Fog decided to focus on the present. He looked at the logbook. Trying to find a pattern, he could only see one. He wrote out the first few numbers from his first broadcast, and circled the sections where the numbers started repeating.
(1 2 3 4) (2 3 4 5 6 7 8) (7 8 9) 0 (0 1 2 3) BREAK. He then wrote out the amount of numbers in the sections, and the number the sections ended with. (4 4)=8 (7 8)=15 (3 9)=12 0 (4 3)=7. Fog looked at what he wrote and decided it was too complicated to decode. He folded the paper in half and wedged it into today’s entry in his journal. Whoever was translating this may have a decoder that changes each night. Or maybe 90% of it was meaningless.
Fog looked out his fourth story window and saw a large gang of dogs run past. He heard a gunshot in the distance, and a scream. Or maybe it was just fireworks? He heard yelling and honking. A police siren. Fog looked at the time: it was nearly midnight. For once, he broke his schedule and decided to stay up, listening to his own recorded broadcasts for clues.
Fog had been sent as an assassin in different countries before. He was sure to not be cocky, even when he was a cadet. When he left a crime scene, he was sure to think about what he would say if he was caught. Late at night, walking the wide, empty streets alone after his silent murders, he tried to keep a slow pace. He tried to put himself in the shoes of the detectives who would see his work the next morning.
Fog looked out the window. The night sky was clear.
7 years ago